Bali faves 2.0

I've been a little swept up in the tides and forgot to share my favorites from last month's trip to Bali! We love Canggu, a surf town with great coffee shops and yoga vibes, so we spend most of our time cruising the Batu Bolong strip - which I refer to as the Bali equivalent of Purdy Ave. In the year since we last visited, there has been a surge of development (sad) but some great new spots have sprouted up (score). So if you're planning a trip in real life or just taking notes for your future adventures, here are my most recent recommendations:

Milk and Madu: this place rocks. It's by the same peeps who run Watercress, another great resto. Bali has an excellent coffee shop slash breakfast thing going on, which I'm pretty sure is drawn from the strong Australian influence. And man, do they nail it. Avocado toast, coconut milk chia puddings, incredible cappuccinos with Revolver coffee and gorgeous presentation. Mike and I loved to hit this spot up for brekkie after our respective yoga and surf sessions.

milk and madu

Dandelion: I don't even know how to describe this adorable warung, so I'll just tell you what it offers. Great food, cheap prices, a balinese mariachi band and bunny rabbits that run free around the backyard. Go for dinner, stay a while, tell all of your friends. It's just too cute not to share.

Alchemy: This Ubud joint is famous and I don't know why I didn't make it here last time. This place sets the standard for raw vegan food. High vibration food, great atmosphere, delicious smoothies and cold pressed juice. We loved our lunch up here - it's about an hour from Canggu.

The Chillhouse: This hotel also has some solid yoga teachers, a nice breakfast and offers cool adventurous activities like surfing, biking and more. I loved my morning practice with Octavio.

Deus Ex Machina: Motorcycles, surfboards, music, restaurant... this place is epic. Their revered Temple of Enthusiasm flagship in Canggu is popular for their Tuesday night tradition - tacos and free tattoos. I was very close to getting one... but instead I opted to get inked at a proper place later that week! Surprise! Here I am getting a fresh tat at Mason's Ink Tattoo in Seminyak.

bali tattoo

My little Bali souvenir! A reminder to love through all things - always lots of challenges and times of growth on trips like these.

Mike and I are also planning a super duper dope Bali yoga retreat for 2016 so you can come explore all of these places with us and do some amazing yoga and personal discovery! Stay tuned, info coming soon :) xox

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Travel muffins 2.0

Jet lag is a bitch. Back in Miami and wide awake at 4:30am yesterday, I scrolled through instagram for way too long before I finally got out of bed. In my semi-conscious state, I wandered into the kitchen  - where it seemed like a good idea to make another batch of travel muffins. The same ones I made before we went to Bali. People had been asking for the recipe and I really couldn't remember what I had put into them so I needed to make them again. As I was cracking eggs into the mixing bowl at 5am, I wondered if I was perhaps a baker in a past life. 

travel muffins

I love to bring homemade food on a trip, much more nourishing than airplane junk. Although I did have some decent food on my flights to and from Bali. I request the Hindu Vegetarian option when I fly - which means Indian food and veggies... I even got a pretty yummy saag paneer for one meal. 

namaste muffin mix

Back to the muffins - they are super easy because a) they come from a mix! and b) they don't require a vitamix or anything fancy. I stumbled up this mix in Whole Foods a few months ago and was instantly drawn to it by the brand name - Namaste Foods. Excellent marketing to this yogi. 

It's sugar free and gluten free as well, so that's awesome. A forewarning - when they say it's sugar free, they really mean it's sugar free. No sweet taste AT ALL... so if you like a little sweetness, give it some chopped banana on top, or you can mix some banana into the batter. Older bananas are sweeter but younger ones hold up better as a topping. Your call. It's a brown rice flour based mix and super versatile. You could do all kinds of things with it. 

They're perfect for a long trip because they're quick to make (who has time when you're packing for a big voyage), they hold up super well in your carry-on luggage, they're light and munchy and you can put some chocolate in them which just feels like vacation. Enjoy!

Travel muffins 2.0

Ingredients:

  • 1 bag of Namaste Muffin Mix (buy online here or at Whole Foods)
  • 1/2 cup alternative milk (cashew, almond, coconut)
  • 1/2 cup filtered water
  • 2 free range eggs
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 cup chopped low sugar dark chocolate bar (or if you don't care about sure, use enjoy life mini chips - they're the best) 
  • 1/2 banana
  • hemp seeds for topping

Preparation:

  1. Mix muffin mix with water and milk - make sure you break up all the lumps. 

  2. Mix in eggs (if you're using mashed banana, add this in here as well) Let this sit for a few minutes to so that the mixture warms.

  3. Melt coconut oil and add it to mixture. If your mixture is too cold, it will cause the coconut oil to harden into little chunks. If that's the case, let it hang out on the counter until everything warms up to make sure it blends properly.  

  4. Add cinnamon, vanilla, sea salt and mix until well blended.

  5. Stir in chopped chocolate.

  6. Lightly grease a muffin pan with coconut oil and drop mixture into the individual muffin shapes. Makes 12 large or 24 mini muffins. I prefer mini ;)

  7. Top with cinnamon and hemp seeds and sliced banana if you're using. Make sure to push the banana chunks down to ensure they stick into the mixture.

  8. Bake at 400 degrees for 13 - 15 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool and then pack up a ziploc bag full of muffins for your trip and freeze the rest for when you come home!

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High vibration

I'm back in Bali. We're back in Bali. There wasn't even much conversation about it between me and Mike - it was more of an understanding. That we needed to get back and plug in. That we needed to experience it. I don't know how to describe it beyond saying that, at least for me, there is incredible transformation and beauty on this island. High vibration. Things shift for me here. 

There is spirit in the DNA of the Balinese culture. It hits you the second you walk out of the airport. The smell of incense rising above the cacophony of taxis and motorbikes. There are temples, offerings, prayer... devotion everywhere. Spirit energy. And we are here during the ten days of Galungan, the Hindu holiday when ancestral spirits come down from heaven to visit the island. Ironically - and unintentionally - we were here during Galungan last year. I swear there are spirits everywhere.

desa seni

Last year's trip to Bali screwed me up, in a good way. I came with expectations for this perfect experience and it was so much different than I wanted it to be. I had to give up my expectations, I had to surrender, believe and trust. I had to let go of a bunch of bullshit and get closer to the truth. Once I did, incredible channels opened up. This past year has been a practice of being open for everything, and I feel like this trip once again is widening those channels.

We've been here two weeks and things are changing. I'm changing. Things are getting shaken up, I'm uncomfortable but this time I'm better at recognizing that it's a sign of growth. The vibrations are getting higher... and I'm feeling that Bali magic hitting me again. 

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Flexivert

I took one of those little quizzes last night on Facebook. You know, the ones that have provocative titles like "What city are you supposed to be living in?"

Mine was Capetown. Which I totally agree with - I love that place. 

capetown

The one I took last night was a "What personality type are you" quiz. It was based on the Myers Briggs test. Since it was just a zippy Facebook link, I didn't overthink my answers like I normally would. Breezing through - yes, that sounds a little like me... no, that does not describe me at all... I made it through and then at the end I was told I was an INFJ.

Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Judging. 

Introverted. I mulled this over. I read the description. Yep, that sounds like me. Creative but struggles to express how I'm feeling verbally. Sensitive. Insightful. Secretive. Believe I'm right. Perfectionist who is rarely at peace with myself. Yes, yes, yes. But introvert? I wasn't sold.

Today I started talking to my mom and she told me how much she loves texting. I agreed with her and she said "I really don't like talking on the phone."

"Yes!" I exclaimed emphatically. "I hate calling people on the phone! I don't even like picking it up when people call! It makes me so anxious." Introvert central.

I love people. I equally love being by myself. Maybe I'm a flexivert. But what's more compelling is why do I always feel like I need a label to feel whole and complete. 

Do I really need another reason to feel good or bad about myself? 

Maybe I'll just move to Capetown and stop taking these little quizzes.

capetown
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Slow down

The rain stopped. "Yes!" I said to Mike. "We can still go for a bike ride." I had chosen the Nita Lake Lodge for their great reviews and their complimentary use of 'toys' - bikes, canoes, paddle boards, etc. Although today's forecast was 90% chance of precipitation, the skies had cleared momentarily and I was eager to take a spin through the mountains. 

whistler

We got set up on mountain bikes and actually wore helmets on for a change. As we rounded the first curve, I turned to Mike with a big smile, "I've never regretted a bike ride." 

"Dude!" He replied. "You totally just jinxed us." 

"No way. Don't say that."

We rode through Whistler - around lakes, over bridges, through scenery we would never see in Miami. We switched gears to ride up hills. We waved to people and said hello as we breezed by. It was lovely. 

whistler sky

After a steady uphill climb, we approached the top of a curving steep descent with a warning sign. I immediately thought back to Bali. That island been on my mind frequently. I remembered Mike cruising down giant hills on our scooter while I cowered in the back. I reminisced working through that fear and by the end of the trip, I was successfully navigating my way on the scooter up and down big hills. I came back to the present moment and smiled to myself as I started to cruise down the hill, gaining speed quickly. In hindsight, it was weird - Mike would normally be in front in these kind of situations, yet I was the first one going down. As I plowed ahead, I saw a bend in the road ahead and quickly braked to slow down.

The trail was still wet from the rain and with the combination of fast braking and wet ground, my tire slipped, swerving the bike underneath me and throwing me off. My hip and thigh hit - hard - and I tumbled forward - all in slow motion. I watched from outside my body as my chin finally hit the pavement, the impact enough to rattle my brain. 

Fuck.

Am I alive? There's blood. There's Mike. Teeth in check? Yes. Fuck. I'm sorry. I'm so sorry.

My tape played out. Frustrated at myself for getting hurt. For ruining our plans. For being human. Fuck, I really like it when I can be perfect and keep my shit together. 

Mike got me up. My shoe was ripped from the force of the fall. We slowly walked back to the hotel, him walking both bikes, me with a leaf over my chin to apply pressure. Blood. "It's not so bad," Mike kept telling me. It was bad. Stitches. He just didn't want me to pass out. Love.

"Slow down," the universe tells me. "You can't always control the journey."

I guess it's time for me to listen. 

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Coconut cashew butter

I woke up today thinking about Bali. And Mike. He's been gone for almost a month - off in Vancouver getting yoga-fied. And we have reached the "ok, that was fun for a few weeks, we need to be back together" point. I'm over the novelty of being by myself and very much ready to have my partner back. I can only keep myself busy for so long - when I slow down and really feel my emotions, I am immediately reminded how much it sucks to be apart.

In missing him, I waxed nostalgically back to our adventures in Bali and also simultaneously starting thinking about food prep - weird, I know. I am going to Canada on Friday to meet up with him and I have been wanting to make something for the trip.

Hmm. Bali was a goldmine of cashews and coconuts. I am on a nut butter kick this week. I need something deliciously filling and portable for the flight.

Bali + food prep + Canada trip... 

"Can they intermingle?" I thought to myself. "Dude. They totally can." And in that moment, coconut cashew butter was born.

*Notable - all of this happened while pulsing during 7:30am FlyBarre class this morning. Moments of brilliance are not limited to when you're in the shower.

*Notable - all of this happened while pulsing during 7:30am FlyBarre class this morning. Moments of brilliance are not limited to when you're in the shower.

Coconut Cashew Butter

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of raw cashews 
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1 tablespoon hemp hearts
  • 1 tablespoon shredded or flaked coconut
  • 1 - 2 tablespoons of coconut oil
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 3 - 4 shakes of cinnamon

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 300 F

  2. In a large bowl, mix cashews with honey and hemp hearts and spread the mixture on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

  3. Bake the mixture for 20 - 25 minutes until golden.

  4. Remove the nut mix from the oven and let it cool off for a few minutes. 

  5. Once cool enough to handle, add the nuts to your food processor.

  6. Let the food processor run for 5-10 minutes, occasionally scraping down the sides.

  7. After the almonds stop being meal-y and become buttery (about 5-7 minutes), add the coconut oil, chia, coconut shreds/flakes, salt, vanilla and cinnamon. Let the processor run for another few minutes. Add more oil as you see fit. 

  8. Once it reaches your desired consistency - this takes longer than almonds, fyi - my food processor ran for another good 10 minutes. It will make a big cashew ball but then it will smooth itself out into delicious creaminess. Patience, young grasshoppers. 

  9. Put it all in a mason jar and eat with a banana. Nom-enal. Refrigerate if it's going to last you more than a day or two.

A field of honey coated cashews awaits you...

A field of honey coated cashews awaits you...

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Favorites: Bali yoga

I bid Bali adieu on Tuesday and 44 hours later… I'm home. I'm operating kind of like a jet-lagged zombie but overall I feel pretty good. I'm attributing most of my feeling goodness to the amazing yoga in Bali that filled my cup for the past 5 weeks. Oh, and hydrating. Drinking lots of water on the plane is a must.

Bali is the yogi mecca of the East. LA is the mecca of the West, in case you were wondering. The yoga vibes are contagious. Like, literally, you're breathing patchouli all of the time. I almost certainly would have gotten a chakra tattoo if I stayed any longer. Or at least started wearing more earth tones. The scene is pretty serious. There is actually a nice process to the whole thing - you show up and lather yourself with all-natural bug spray (since everything in Bali is partially outdoors), set up mat/blocks/towel, commence class (which starts on time unless there is scooter traffic), practice, finish, drink coconut water straight from the coconut. And repeat.

They must not have any obstacles here. Ganesha is like the main man in Bali.

They must not have any obstacles here. Ganesha is like the main man in Bali.

I loved practicing in Bali. It totally hit the spot. Spirituality, flow, breath, meditation. I was able to get to most of the main studios - there are a few amazing places I didn't get to practice at, but the ones I recommend below are a pretty solid representation of the Bali yoga scene. Om.

Canggu -

Desa Seni - This gorgeous eco-friendly yoga resort has a great mix of teachers and styles - from Anusara to Ashtanga. I considered this my home studio for a couple weeks and I was always excited to take class there. They have a great yoga community, lots of ex-pats who live in Bali - and they do regular community events and lots of workshops. I practiced mostly with Octavio - vinyasa with some bhakti infusion. Desa Seni has Manduka-ish mats for use and they offer complimentary tea post-practice. Expect to see lots of people from Australia, Canada and the US. Book one of their excellent massages afterwards for a real treat. Yum!

One of two studios at Desa Seni

One of two studios at Desa Seni

Uluwatu

Morning Light Yoga - One of the most beautiful studios I've practiced at. They do two classes a day - 10:30am and 5:30pm. The morning one was my preferred time - so you can see the morning light, of course! Lots of surfers and wives/girlfriends of surfers in class. The teachers are mainly from California and have great sequencing and good vibes. Stick around to chat after class about how the surf is in Java or how good Land's End Cafe is. 

Dreamy set-up at Morning Light Yoga

Dreamy set-up at Morning Light Yoga

Ubud

Yoga Barn - Whoa, yogi. This is yoga central. It's basically a yoga compound. The class schedule is amazing - tons of classes and options. But it felt like everyone took themselves too seriously. They have everything you could ever want from a yoga studio - delicious cafe, showers, massage, tibetan bowl meditations, ecstatic dance classes, Ayurveda doctors, shopping, a tiny bookstore, on site accommodations (which I stayed at) - but overall the vibe was a little heavy for me. Good to visit for a class or two - the teachers totally know their stuff - but I wouldn't practice here regularly.

Radiantly Alive - Beautiful studio and training center with less pretense than Yoga Barn. The airy, light filled upstairs studio was a joy to practice in. I only got to one class (Vinyasa) here but I really enjoyed it. They have a pretty solid schedule with a variety of classes per day, including aerial yoga. This would be my preferred studio if I was in Ubud, just off the vibe alone.

Radiantly Alive in Ubud, Bali

Radiantly Alive in Ubud, Bali

So now that I've been able to get on my mat consistently for 5 weeks, it's time to pass that energy on in my classes. I'm back to my normal class schedule and I'm excited to announce that I'll be teaching a new class - Monday 4:30pm at Green Monkey Miami Beach. I've also got an H2om next week - June 27th at 8pm at the Standard Hotel. Check here for details! xo

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Bali breakdown

Three weeks in Bali. It's been a total adventure - we've been in 4 different areas, ridden on 6 different scooters, stayed at 10 different places and eaten countless fresh and delicious meals. It's beautiful, inexpensive and the people are top notch. I have so much to share on what I've learned and what I've loved.

But before we go there, here is a quick explanation of the different parts of Bali we visited, which I personally wish I had researched a bit more before we arrived. Experience can be the best teacher though, and we have done a good job of getting around. In case you're interested in a visit to this amazing island, here is a quick breakdown of some top places.

Three weeks and we only hit 4 spots. There is so much to explore in Bali!

Three weeks and we only hit 4 spots. There is so much to explore in Bali!

Seminyak: This area north of the airport is mainstream and fun, with lots of cool walkable shops and restaurants for me and good surf for Mike. Kayu Aya and Oberoi are the main drags here. Seminyak has great beaches, and is easy to get around. It feels the most like Miami Beach.

Revolver Coffee in Seminyak. My fave!

Revolver Coffee in Seminyak. My fave!

Canggu: This sunny town houses lots of ex-pats and great surf. The beaches have black sand so they're pretty hot but manageable. Lots of great beachside restaurants, shops and good yoga out here. Canggu is close to Seminyak. Echo Beach is a favorite spot.

Sunny Canggu. Ganesha at Desa Seni with lots of floating flowers.

Sunny Canggu. Ganesha at Desa Seni with lots of floating flowers.

Kuta: Once beautiful, Kuta is now pretty grimy. It reminds me of Ocean Drive on Memorial Day weekend. Most native Balinese people stay away from this area. We normally would stay away too but we had to go here a few times for Mike to sell surfboards at a local dig. If you want an adventure, take a scooter down the very narrow Poppies Lane I and Poppies Lane II. That part was awesome.

Uluwatu: The southern peninsula can also be referred to as the Bukit. This lower Eastern part of Bali is famous for it's world class surf breaks. It's pretty remote but there is a smattering of good healthy restaurants and yoga for the wives and girlfriends of a surfer. No shopping. There is a slightly drier climate down here and amazing vistas and cliffs. Other areas nearby are Padang-Padang, Bingin and Dreamland. It's a surfer's dream. Mike loved it here, I didn't love it as much, there's just not as much to do here for a non-surfer. Gorgeous sunsets though!

Padang Padang Beach at sunset. Pretty amazing.

Padang Padang Beach at sunset. Pretty amazing.

Ubud: This place is yogi paradise. It's inland, basically in the center of the island of Bali. This raw food and yoga mecca is super crunchy. Hippies galore. It had a great local vibe with has unique shops and lots to do. Think silver classes, volcano hikes, eco-bike tours, cooking classes. No beach but most villas/hotels have pools. It's super green and lush with lots of rice paddies to visit and organic food straight from the farm.

Spiritual city: there are lots of tiny temples hiding all over Ubud

Spiritual city: there are lots of tiny temples hiding all over Ubud

Up next, I'll share my fave spots from our time down south in Ulus, Canggu/Seminyak and Ubud. Stay tuned!

Teehee… yukking it up in Seminyak

Teehee… yukking it up in Seminyak

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Silver and softness

Ubud is a magical place. Filled with all things I love – great yoga, creative and delicious vegan fare… and jewelry. Streets filled with beautiful, wonderful jewelry. I’ve always loved jewelry and on and off have played with making it myself. But I haven’t done it in years, instead my time was spent more on yangy things like being productive and working… a lot of doing instead of being.

I’ve blogged about yin energy before. The feminine divine that is present within all of us. She is the mysterious and soft energy, and equally powerful to the more masculine yang. Yin is a flowing and quiet force that requires letting go. Over the past few months, I’ve been giving space for my femininity to surface, acquainting myself more with it, stepping into it. Hanging out in the “she” is not always the most familiar place for me. For me, it means surrendering control, allowing for more softness, more grace, more gratitude. Wearing more dresses. Writing. Taking my time. Practicing less handstands and more hip openers.

The feminine is also the creative. It's no wonder that when I found out that there were silversmith classes in Ubud, I was immediately interested. I had never worked with metal and fire (exciting!) and the opportunity to create my own designs sounded like a dream come true. Armed with our own designs, we each had a silversmith station, complete with a torch and free reign to create whatever we wanted under guidance from master silversmith, Ketut. And working with the silver, making it from nothing into something, I felt totally alive and at peace and myself. I believe that our life experiences – the good and bad - are to help us know ourselves better and remind us who we are at the core. Two classes later, I have some beautiful, handmade jewelry to continue cultivating my femme within and remind me of this journey I am on. 

silversmith station!

silversmith station!

moon pendant to inspire the feminine spirit

moon pendant to inspire the feminine spirit

arm candy!

arm candy!

Rings! I didn't make the middle one though

Rings! I didn't make the middle one though

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Radical contentment

A big theme that has shown up for me this week is comparison. It's cool because it's irrelevant that I'm on the other side of the planet - it's the same conversation that's happening in Miami Beach that's happening in Padang Padang Beach. Over the past few days, I've been privy to hearing people compare bodies, yoga practices, hotels, cities, cultures, you name it. Hell, on this trip, I've been guilty of comparing what my experience is to what I believe my experience should be. On what I think Bali 'should be like' versus how it actually has been for me. 

Comparison is the thief of happiness
IMG_1646.JPG

After two days of heavy Ubud yoga-ing, here are some of my yogi thoughts on this. The moral/ethical yoga code is comprised of the yamas and niyamas. There's a niyama called santosha, which means radical contentment. It's the ability to feel satisfied with the container of one's immediate experience. To be totally content with what is.

Comparison is so paralyzing because once you start comparing yourself to someone or something, you stop having your experience. When you're not you, something else is. The ego completely takes over. And your ego isn't you. When we identify with the ego (which loves to show up as "I will be happy when…") we will never be content. Adios santosha. Is your life complete after you bought those new yoga pants? No, of course not. That is not the answer. And you knew that already, but the ego is so freaking tricky. It will keep tricking you until you really get that you are the answer. You already have what you need right there inside of you.

Commit to loving yourself and loving your experience. Commit to staying on your mat, wherever you are on that journey. And be so grateful, for everything you are - because you are beautiful and whole and complete.

Tiny blessing everywhere you go.

Tiny blessing everywhere you go.



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Fire and light

So much of who we are is where we have been.
— William Langewiesche
IMG_1384.jpg

Travel is such a compelling life shaper because it lights (or maybe rekindles) the fire within you. The first time you go somewhere, it takes you completely out of your element. It brings up stuff. Mike and I learn the most about ourselves and our relationship when we travel. That's probably why we keep doing it. It brings us back to who we fundamentally are at the core. There's no room for bullshit and pretense when you're dealing with the stressors and weird shit in foreign lands. You get closer to you.

The first few days here, we were in Seminyak, which is pretty Miami-ish. Very palatable. Then we got down to Uluwatu, in the south, which is more of a legit Bali experience. It's not super walkable so everyone lives the motorbike life. They drive on the left hand side here and it's a total free for all. Way crazier than Miami.

A couple days ago, we took a day trip from Uluwatu north to Canggu on our scooter, complete with Mike's surf board in tow. I love day trips but this one was pretty ballsy. We weren't totally sure of how to get there and it involved some rather questionable driving on a road equivalent to I-95 during rush hour. And I was on the back of the scooter with big trucks whizzing by me. As the roads got scarier, my internal fire starting rising - my gut instinct was to freak out and want to control everything ("Mike! Slow the fuck down!") but once I started consciously assessing the situation, I was able to harness the fire and embrace what was happening. Then it became really fun. My experience immediately transformed from fear into adventure. Fire is transformative.

We got into some awesome Indiana Jones shit cruising down really narrow alleys in sketchville Kuta. Stuff that I will remember forever. The adventure wouldn't have happened if I let the fire take over. You need fire for illumination. For clarity. To see things for what they are. But not so hot that it burns the experience - or you - out.  

A little fire dance in sketchy Kuta

A little fire dance in sketchy Kuta

A real fire dance at Uluwatu Temple

A real fire dance at Uluwatu Temple


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Bali packing list

We made it to Bali! 

bali

Quite the mission to get here... MIA - NYC - YVR - HKG - DPS. But 24 hours in and I'm totally in love with Bali. It's yogi paradise. Teak furniture and Ganesha statues as far as the eye can see. Beautiful beaches and fresh delicious food with lots of veggie options. Great coffee and nice people. Little altars everywhere. Blurred lines between indoor and outdoor spaces. Simple living. In the spirit of keeping life simple, I packed for a month of travel in one carry-on.

IMG_1017.jpg

Given my previous ankle incident, I made a commitment to only traveling with a carry-on from here on out. I struggle with over-thinking when I pack so I wanted to share my packing list in case it might help you. Here is what made it into in my bag for one month abroad - with multiple climates (it's going to be in the 50's in Australia). As you can see below, I was able to fit a good amount of stuff! 

Bali/Australia packing list:

- 6 basic-ish tank tops (mix of lululemon, American Apparel and Purdy Ave, of course!)

- 3 pairs of yoga pants (teeki and lululemon)

- 1 pair of luxtreme crops for hiking and beach walks

- 1 pair of black wunder under crops

- 1 pair of lululemon speed shorts

- 3 dresses which can double as beach cover-ups

- flowy skirt

- 1 crochet tank

- 1 pair of jeans

- 3 pairs of loose lightweight pants in fun prints (basically the pants I wear all the time)

- 2 long-sleeved shirts (one of which is lululemon silverescent for when we go hiking)

- button down chambray shirt

- plain gray t-shirt

- black jacket with a removable hood

- 3 swimsuits (and I just bought a new one here! so 4 now)

- havaianas flip-flops

- gold and leather sandals

- chuck high-tops

- nike frees

- little yoga sneakers from London

- awesome big straw sun hat

- baseball hat

- vinyasa scarf

- 2 purses (day and night)

- 1 travel tote

- 1 collapsible backpack from BAGGU

- umbrella

- sunglasses

- assorted jewelry

- toiletries/make-up

- laptop, cell phone and charger

- great book (The Fault in our Stars) which I devoured on the plane

- yoga mat

- international converter

Also noteworthy is what I didn't pack - a hair straightener or blowdryer. Au natural, baby. I know I can trim this packing list down - I'll revisit it after the trip and note what I didn't use. The less I can bring, the better. Like my mantra from last week, I have everything I need.

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hOMe

trust the universe

The universe is a funny thing. It has a way of directing us back to where we are supposed to be. And for me and Mike, it looks like we are supposed to be in Miami. Due to some circumstances outside our control, we won't be galavanting across Europe anymore. It's kind of a bummer, but honestly I'm not really that upset. I missed home while I was gone. I love it here. It's sunny and warm. We have a great group of friends, familiar faces, a rad apartment in an amazing location. 

Travel is beautiful because your eyes are so open. To what is new and to what is already there. For me, it gave me such a gift of reflection. How important it is for me to part of a community - being alone in a new place not really knowing anyone, I quickly became lonely. I know if we had stayed there I would have made friends - but for the initial few weeks, I wasn't my happiest. I was reminded that my yoga practice is my lifeline. That I need to meditate regularly. That cooking in my kitchen is more enjoyable to me than any expensive meal out. How much I value my daily bike rides. I was so inspired too - by what people are up to, how they see the world, what they're seeing, wearing, eating. This experience, albeit short, taught me so much. I studied abroad in London in college, but this was different. More real. 

This trip also kickstarted some of my goals, rekindling my love affair with writing, launching a blog, teaching internationally, getting published on MindBodyGreen, getting a writing job… and we made some great progress with Purdy Ave. Being somewhere new and not working a normal job gave me creative space that I had never had in my adult life.

meditation

So we are back in Miami for about a month and then heading abroad for some personal travel (honeymoon in Bali!) and we will be home for June and beyond - pretty much permanently - for now at least. I'm excited to get back into this community that I love, create some new possibilities for myself and see can happen from this new space. I'm going to be working on my goals this week to get some fresh energy flowing - I'll post them to share. Grateful to be home. xx, Amy

PS - Yes, I'm also back teaching my normal schedule at Green Monkey. Can't wait to see you there.

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Favorites: NYC edition II

After a full weekend of yoga and walking slash biking the streets of NYC and Brooklyn, Mike and I got pretty hungry. And we love food, especially new places. So here is a round-up of some of our favorite healthy options to add to my list of NYC favorites:

1. Hu Kitchen, Union Square

This place is the JAM. It's paleo based and they have lots of vegan options. They call themselves nutritionally superior and delicious and I agree. They have a super cool vibe and food choices for any palate. The "hu" part stands for Human - as in taking you back to basics. I got a veggie plate and the veggies were insane, lots of roasted options and salads. Mike had the Primal Kale Salad that was off the hook. They also have a mash bar, basically an alternative to DIY fro-yo places. You can pick of their tried and true blends or create your own - choose a base of chocolate or vanilla chia pudding, taro pudding or almond butter and load on favorites like fruit, cashew cream, berries, grain-free granola on top to create a better, yummier and paleo version of a sinful treat. We went for lunch but I hear breakfast is amazing too. 

Somehow after lunch at Hu Kitchen, both me and Mike ended up in a breakdance performance in Union Square.

Somehow after lunch at Hu Kitchen, both me and Mike ended up in a breakdance performance in Union Square.

2. Sun in Bloom, Tribeca (they also have one in Brooklyn)

Vegan, gluten-free and raw kitchen? Yes, please. We stumbled upon this place after a lovely Saturday morning Kula Flow class. We were on our way to La Colombe for coffee (another fave) and happily peeked in here when we saw vegan and gluten-free written on the sandwich board outside. Healthy breakfast and they served La Colombe coffee too?! Score. The coconut kefir with homemade live granola was amazing. I also tried a gluten free carrot muffin with walnuts. The juices looked divine, although we didn't have any (needed coffee first). They had chocolate brazil nut mylk. And quinoa macro bowls with a whole bunch of things you can add in. Mmm. Totally would go here all the time if I lived here.

yum yum Sun in Bloom

yum yum Sun in Bloom

3. Organic Avenue, all over NYC

I like to go into juice bars and see what they're making, just to get inspired by ingredients and combinations. And there are juice bars all over Manhattan so there's lot of competition. We popped into the Organic Avenue near Soho. I wanted one of everything. They are spot on with their juice and smoothie offerings, at least in my humble opinion. They have a smoothie named Green Monkey! And they serve their own kombucha? Awesome. We tried the Royal Red and Matcha Chia juices and were not disappointed by either. They also do soups and entrees. Friendly people, clean place and great flavors. Definitely high on my juice bar favorites list!

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Favorites: NYC edition

Sometimes I like spontaneity when I travel. But not usually. Usually I prefer to know exactly what I'm getting into. In my ideal situation, I'll research before I go anywhere. Like, I look at menus before I go to restaurants. I"ll map how far of a bike ride it is. I'll google things like "best coffee shop to work from with wifi" and then read blog posts and reviews about it. And I appreciate those posts because they help me make an informed decision about how I'm spending my time. In the end, it comes down to efficiency.  

I've been asked a few times lately where I like to do "x" in NYC. X being get coffee, do yoga, eat, shop, etc. I don't actually live in New York. But I visit frequently (I'm in NYC as I write this) and I research things each time so I have a little cache of information to share with you about this fine and vibrant city. Here are a few of my fave things in the city (and Brooklyn!)

COFFEE

This one is first since it's my life blood. If I could get an IV drip of coffee attached to my alarm clock, I would. These two are a close second.

1. Toby's Estate Coffee, Williamsburg. I love this place. The vibe is awesome, huge windows and lots of tables. Super hipster. It's basically a commercial for Apple products and beards. The coffee is INCREDIBLE. It's an Australian import so the baristas have accents and are generally hot and surfer-ish. Great place to do work (if you can get a seat) and hang in Brooklyn.

2. La Colombe, Soho. This gem is small but wow, yum. They don't do almond milk but they do hemp milk (weird?) and it's probably the best latte I have ever had. I didn't get the hemp milk though, just FYI. Perfect spot for a quick takeaway coffee if you're in the Soho area. There isn't much room to sit and do work but the vibe is great and coffee is divine. 

BIKE ROUTES

I enjoy riding bikes on major roads in major cities. It's a total rush. That being said, it is not for the faint of heart. It is a rush because your life is always slightly on the line. The routes below are relatively tame, but it's good to recognize your comfort level and stay true to it. Both of them can take a couple hours so it's a great way to spend a sunny afternoon in NYC.

1. Bike the Hudson River Greenway. It's a dedicated bike/pedestrian street up the west side of Manhattan. Get a bike in the West Village at Waterfront Bicycle Shop and head north. You can go all the way to the George Washington Bridge. It's so scenic - you really never feel like you're in Manhattan. Alternatively, you can get a Citi Bike for cheaper but you have to dock it every 30 minutes, so you end up getting off the Greenway and back on - which can be annoying. Stop at crazy Fairway Grocery store if you need a snack and go in the cold foods section if you want to cool off. It's basically a giant walk in freezer room.

2. Bike from Park Slope to Coney Island. Or from Brooklyn Bridge, like this guy did. You get to ride through Prospect Park (gorgeous!) and there is a path most of the way after that, so you're not in the street as much. You're also riding to a destination that has go-karts and a beach, which is fun. We got bikes from Ride Brooklyn on Bergen Street - they were nice guys and good bikes. We started at the bike shop, rode through Park Slope, through the park and then down. It does get a little sketchy as you get closer to Coney Island but it goes pretty quickly. 

Whee, riding through Prospect Park!

Whee, riding through Prospect Park!

SHOP

1. I love the Williamsburg Brooklyn Flea. I love Williamsburg in general. A sunny Sunday at the Flea with some Toby's Coffee in hand is just so fun. The vendors are amazing. The food is all local and incredible. It's full of inspiration. It's also not that big, so you can do it all in an hour or less and then head over to Artists and Fleas - another winner, with great jewelry.

cute plants at the Flea

cute plants at the Flea

2. 21 Mercer. Ahh. This store. I come in here almost every time I go to NYC just to see what they have. The kicks are so dope and they have an in house Nike ID studio. Love, love, love. 

COOKIES

Yes, this is a category. I have researched cookies in NYC heavily. There's no time to waste calories on sub-par cookies! The cookies at both places are huge so split with a friend or two.

1. Levain Bakery. The one on the Upper Westside. Dark chocolate peanut butter chip. OMG. Walk over to Central Park and enjoy it on a bench there since there is no seating at Levain. 

2. Birdbath. The one in Soho. I mean, they have giant piles of cookies in the window. Yum!

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Explore the world. Discover yourself.

I knew I had packed too much. Two rain jackets? Really, Amy? Mike kept telling me I packed too much. I kept saying that I would need all of it. I didn’t. And maybe it was due to my excitement about heading to Miami for a few days, but coming down the front steps from our 6th floor walk-up in NYC this morning with my 50 pound suitcase, I fell. Off the last step. Fuck.

“If I broke my ankle…” I said to myself, not really knowing what I would do if I broke my ankle. “Holy shit! Are you ok?” yelled the guy walking by. “Yeah. I’m fine.” I paused to collect myself. “Thanks for asking.”

Soho Ganesha

Soho Ganesha

These are the lessons when I learn the most. The moments when I beat myself up. For not planning better. For not taking my time. For packing five pairs of yoga pants when I would have been fine with two. When did I start needing so much stuff? I was never a crazy packer. This is my personal shit playing out in my life – looking good, wanting to have the right clothes so I can fit in, thinking I ‘got it’ all the time, me not asking for help. Mike was going to be at work when I left for my flight and had asked me if I would need help navigating the heavy suitcase down the six floors of narrow winding stairs of the cute NYC rental apartment. No, no. I was good. “I got it!” Ugh. Now all I’ve got is a hurt ankle and a bruised ego. I keep learning.

 

 

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Expect the unexpected

Yesterday Mike and I woke up in London, spent the day in Germany and went to bed in NYC. 

Germany was an unanticipated detour - our one hour connection in Dusseldorf turned into a 7 hour layover. Normally annoyed at this kind of wait time, once we were informed the plane we were supposed to be on was 'broken', we were more grateful than irritated. With no wifi at the airport... what else was there to do? We hopped on a train into town. Thanks to some friendly Germans, we got a requisite pretzel and made it to Altstadt, also known as Old Town. This, we learned, is where the cool Germs hang out. It was adorable and totally what I imagined Germany to look like, given my trips to Epcot as a little one. 

Altstadt, Dusseldorf

Altstadt, Dusseldorf

Without a plan, we wandered about until we got hungry. Mike decided he should probably have some schnitzel at Die Bratwurst. I didn't partake in the schnitzel-ing but it looked pretty legit. As did Mike.

Mike looking Germish

Mike looking Germish

We cruised the riverfront, checked out the cobblestone streets and then somehow stumbled upon the nicest British guy, Garry, who used to live in Altstadt and ironically is a travel writer, so he showed us some of the best little secrets - including some super yum coffee and their main drag, which had an H&M, Louis Vuitton and Tiffany's. So much for cultural diversity. I also saw a make-your-own Muesli store, which looked amazing and fun. What I did not see was a single yoga studio or yoga mat. Although there was this headstand statue.

headstand

There is still so much opportunity for yoga out there, peoples! Berlin is next on our list of places to visit and I hear that yoga is the jam there so I can't wait to try it out. After stomping around the D-dorf all afternoon and learning a little German, we made it to the airport and got on a non-broken plane. I also got my new favorite drink to keep me warm on the flight - legit mint tea. Next on my list: growing my own mint so I can have this daily at home. 

Mint tea with a slice of ginger. Divine.

Mint tea with a slice of ginger. Divine.

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How to look like a Londoner in yoga class

Almost two weeks in, I'm getting the hang of it. How to look like a local in the London yoga scene. It's ironic I'm posting about this because my 2014 message is all about being the most authentic you you can possibly be. But here are ten truthbombs I have encountered over my time here that can help ease your transition into UK-asana.

1. Book online before class. There is no patience at the check-in queue for the lowly Miamian who did not pre-register and pre-pay online. You will be inevitably greeted with a snarky "you didn't sign up online? Oh. Hmm. What's your surname?" Then when you attempt to swipe your credit card instead of inserting it in the chip and pin card reader, you will let out a nervous laugh and they will sigh under their breath. Not a good start to your practice. Skip the hassle, book online.

2. Who brings their own mat? Studios here have mats already set up for you. Some good quality, some not. But you will definitely get the once over if you roll out your own mat. I have been bringing my own mat to most classes but to be honest, it's a huge pain - especially when you're schlepping it all over the city. Or on a Boris bike, like me. But once I roll it out, it's like coming home. So that part is worth it.

Triyoga Soho. And my little elephant backpack.

Triyoga Soho. And my little elephant backpack.

3. Do bring your own towel and water! These are not kindly provided like they are in sunny, sweaty Miami Beach. You will especially want said towel if you are using a communal mat. 

4. Brace yourself for a shit-ton of Sanskrit. Maybe it's the closer proximity to India but these cats are dropping -asanas like I've never heard before. They also layer more philosophy into the classes, upping the intellectual ante. No offense, Miami. You're hot, but you're not exactly the brightest bulb. I find it appealing to me as a teacher but might be a bit overwhelming for the starter yogi.

5. No one comes in late. This I love. There is an integrity to the practice. People take this shit seriously. They are on time and they are ready to go, set up on their borrowed studio mats with blocks, straps, etc. You know what they don't have? Their phones. They commit to being fully present in class and this is something I think we can do a much better job of, Miami.

Ok, stepping off soapbox now.

6. Anticipate hearing chill beats and electronica. I have surprisingly enjoyed this more than I thought. The focus is more on the practice and breath since the music sort of fades into the background. So to look like a native London yog-er, you gotta arrive on time, really practice with awareness and then once class is over...

7. Rush right out of the room after you 'om'. There is no lingering in the room here in London! People have very busy things to do! There is no basking in the post-yoga high, wondering whether to go to Panther Coffee or JugoFresh. These peeps have places to go and you better roll on out with them because there is another class starting in this room right now!

8. Sadly, there is no JugoFresh. Believe me, there are all sorts of other British delights (like naan) but the juice scene is still in the embryonic stages here. I have had a couple decent green smoothies with things like beetroot and rocket in them, but kale is king doesn't apply in the UK yet. 

Post yoga smoothie selfie. Such cute little bottles!

Post yoga smoothie selfie. Such cute little bottles!

9. Walking around all day in your lululemons just isn't as commonplace here. Yes, in sunny MIA people wear their workout gear all the time, even when they don't work out. Here, not so much. Bring some normal clothes to change into post-class. Jeans, even.

10. Finally, my biggest observation. When you get past all this surface crapola… it's all the same thing. The London yogis are still dying to nail their inversions. They all still get annoyed when they have a sub. There is still the chick in the Primark leggings practicing next to the Stella McCartney clad glamazon. We are all the exact same, everywhere. It's all one big beautiful interconnected world and yoga is an amazing microcosmic example. And you just gotta smile and love yourself through it or else the noise can easily take you away.

Stay grounded, stay true, stay you. Namaste ;)

 

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Shoes for people who don't wear shoes

After some internal debate, I decided to had to post about it. I mean, I started this blog to share about yoga and things I love. And right now, I am totally in love with Primark.

All hail… Primark.

All hail… Primark.

What is Primark, you ask? I asked the same thing. It sounds like a paleo food delivery service. But it is the highly revered retail mecca of London. Think Forever 21 meets Target meets Top Shop meets... Costco? It is something like 80,000 square feet of clothing, footwear and homegoods. The shoe section alone is worthy of a post. I got these little dudes for 3 pounds. That's $4.96! "I can use these for London yoga!" I thought. I couldn't decide between light gray or dark gray. So I bought both. They are the shoe equivalent of havaianas - whisper thin flats that slip right on. Essentially the perfect non-shoe.

Light gray primark sneaks

Light gray primark sneaks

Besides the amazing shoe options, they have all sorts of other things. Like toothbrushes. And my new favorite pants (picture of pants not shown because they will surely be in loads of future pics). I had to practice aparigraha (non-greediness) because if you chatted with me before I left Miami, you know that I am already pretty much disgusted by the amount of clothing I have. So Primark did not get me any closer to my goals of having less stuff. But damn, was it fun.

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Naan yo' business

Oh Miami. I love you. But how much better you would be with some dope ass Indian food. I have been in London exactly 7 nights. And how many times have we had Indian? FIVE. 5 of seven. 71% of the nights I have been here have involved saags, paneers, tikkas… you get the idea. I even bought food to make tonight and we got Indian instead. Yeah, it's bad. Like I'm doing kale smoothies for the next month for dinner bad.

Irregardless, my two favorite spots have been Dishoom and Tayyabs. We heard about Dishoom long before we got to London - hailed as the best spot in town. And that was totally accurate. AH-mazing. We went to the Shoreditch one - it's right by the Shoreditch House (Soho House) and has a great vibe. We tried the paneer tikka, chicken tikka and bowl of greens. All phenoms. Very trendy presentation and cool staff. Lovely chai too. Which actually reminds me of my favorite part of the Dishoom experience...

Brits are so clever!

Brits are so clever!

Chai high

Chai high

On to Tayyabs. On Friday night, we went to this crazy event called Journey to the Centre of the Gut. The main event was this food writer, Gizzy Erskine, swallowing a Pill-Cam live and her gastric journey was broadcast for everyone to witness. She had been fasting all day and she said the first place she wanted to go was Taayabs. British accents can be so funny. I heard her say Tie Ups. So there I was, envisioning Fifty Shades of Grey meets masala. We roll up to Tayyabs/Tie Ups on Saturday night (after the Jack the Ripper tour) and it was the jump-off. Like - they have their own crowd control officer. This pic doesn't do it justice but the inside was crazy packed. Totally the place to be.

Tayyabs

Tayyabs

And the food was most equally amazing. By far, the best garlic naan I have ever touched with my tastebuds. It felt more legitimately Indian than Dishoom in how they served the food, the preparation, those little spices you chew on at the end. Indian is a solid choice for the London traveling yogi with lots of veggie options and can be healthy if you play your cards right and mainly do tandoori instead of curries. Now I just need to lay off the naan...

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